WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Medtronic, Inc, one of the world's largest medical device manufacturers, has agreed to a $23.5m settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, and four relators in a qui tam suit related to cardiac rhythm management devices sold by Medtronic in the U.S., including pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).
The settlement ends a federal qui tam suit filed in Minnesota by Sanford Wittels & Heisler, as well as a similar qui tam suit filed in California. Both suits alleged Medtronic violated the U.S. False Claims Act by using post-market studies and device registries as vehicles to pay participating physicians kickbacks for implanting its pacemakers and ICDs in Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries.
Under today's agreement, three relators will share a settlement of some $3.8 million. The fourth relator named in the settlement will receive $160,160.
David Sanford and Grant Morris of Sanford, Wittels & Heisler represents two of the relators in the Minnesota matter.
"Our society owes an enormous debt to individuals with the courage to blow the whistle when medical device makers try to influence physicians," said Mr. Sanford. "When the use of procedures or devices is driven by corporate greed rather than medical need, it creates a potentially dangerous situation for patients and contributes to escalating medical costs."
The qui tam or whistle blower provisions of the False Claims Act permit private citizens, called "relators," to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of proceeds of any settlement or judgment.
Mr. Morris added, "We are pleased to play a role in shining a light into this dark corner of medical device marketing. Medtronic has done the right thing by settling this matter."
Medtronic simultaneously entered into s